Flashcards for Human Evolution
Topic 4:  Early Human Culture
(14 cards)

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The generic term for a thing that has been manufactured or intentionally modified for some use. A stone tool such as a hand ax is an example as is the computer that you are using.


The name of the first unquestionable stone tool tradition. They were probably first made and used by early transitional humans in East Africa 2.5-2.4 million years ago. While the earliest sites with these tools are from Ethiopia, simple tools of this kind were first discovered by Mary and Louis Leakey associated with Homo habilis at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Subsequently, the name of this tool tradition was derived from that location.

Oldowan Tool Tradition

The generic term for a tool made from a relatively large block of rock rather than from the flakes that are removed from it by percussion flaking in the manufacturing process. Most hand axes fit this definition.

core tool

The name of a very early tool tradition that involved the presumed use of bones, teeth, and horns as clubs and other sorts of weapons by late australopithecines and early humans. This idea was proposed in the 1940's by Raymond Dart but is rejected by most paleoanthropologists today.

Osteodontokeratic Tool Tradition

The generic term for an artifact made from a relatively thin piece of rock knocked off of a larger rock usually by percussion flaking. Homo habilis and Homo erectus used them mostly as cutting and scraping tools.

flake tool

The name of the most well known stone tool making tradition of Homo erectus. It first appeared about 1.5 million years ago in East Africa and eventually spread throughout Africa, Southern Europe, and South Asia. The most diagnostic artifact in this tradition is the hand ax.

Acheulean Tool Tradition

A tool making technique in which a glass-like rock (e.g., obsidian, flint, chert, and basalt) is struck with a heavy glancing blow from another dense rock (a hammerstone) in order to cause a flake to be removed. When a sufficiently large shock wave from a blow is directed into the target rock, the elastic limit of the material is exceeded which causes one or more flakes to be broken off.

percussion flaking

A type of stone tool made from a core or large flake that has been systematically worked by percussion flaking to an elongated oval shape with one pointed end and sharp edges on the sides. In profile, it usually has a teardrop or leaf shape. It is the most well known type of tool in the Acheulean Tool Tradition of Homo erectus after about 1.5 million years ago. Very likely, they were multipurpose implements used for light chopping of wood, digging up roots and bulbs, butchering animals, and cracking bones.

hand ax

A term referring to sources of food and the way they are obtained (e.g., scavenging and hunting).

subsistence pattern or base or strategy

The subsistence pattern of the late australopithecines and early transitional humans.

wild plant food collecting and occasional scavenging for meat and eggs

The subsistence pattern of late Homo erectus.

animal hunting and carcass scavenging along with wild plant food collecting

A term for climatic regions in between subtropical and subarctic zones. These areas usually have winter snow and are too cold to grow oranges and avocados. New York and Seattle are in this climatic zone.

temperate zone

The first hominin known to be able to live in temperate zones in addition to tropical and subtropical ones.

Homo erectus

The term for evolution in which natural selection is altered by cultural inventions. Culture alters the direction of evolution by creating non-biological adaptations to environmental stresses (e.g., wearing insulating clothes on very cold days). This potentially reduces the need to evolve genetic responses to the stresses.

biocultural evolution